News in Brief 28 September 2017 (PM)

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IDP women in one of the camps in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, collect their share of stock cubes to prepare the day's meal. The women are paid a salary to cook the meals. Photo: OCHA/Jaspreet Kindra (file)

Many "just a step away from starvation" around Lake Chad: UN relief chief

Many citizens of the countries that surround Africa's Lake Chad are "just a step away from starvation" and in need of sustained international support.

That's the view of UN relief chief Mark Lowcock, who took up his post at the beginning of this month.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator was talking to journalists at UN Headquarters, having visited two of the countries in the region, Niger and Nigeria, a few days ago.

Along with Chad and Cameroon, he said the region had been badly affected by violence at the hands of Boko Haram extremists, as well as harsh economic and environmental conditions.

Around 11 million now need assistance, of which 7 million are severely food insecure, and close to two million displaced.

"I was incredibly impressed with the work of courageous aid workers. There are thousands of aid workers supporting the relief effort in the region, often under difficult and dangerous circumstances and they are reaching millions of people with life-saving aid. The scale-up of assistance this year which is being led by governments in each of the countries and supported by the international community, has averted what I think could have been a famine in north-east Nigeria but there are still millions of people who have suffered a lot and continue to suffer, many of them just a step away from starvation."

"Tragic accident" costs lives of at least 15 Rohingya: UN agencies

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the migration agency, IOM, reported on Thursday that a "tragic accident" had claimed the lives of at least 15 Rohingya refugees, in the waters off the Bay of Bengal.

At least 100 people were packed onto the boat when it capsized.

Nine children, five women and a man were confirmed dead, with dozens missing.

Hundreds of thousands have made their way across the Myanmar border into Bangladesh, to escape reprisal attacks by government forces, since 25 August.

UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder said that "dozens of others are believed to have perished making similar journeys," and a quarter of a million children have now taken refuge.

UNICEF is calling for greater international support to deliver urgent aid and ensure the protection of children's rights.

Palestinian Authority efforts to re-engage Gaza welcomed by Quartet

Efforts by the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank to regain a presence in the Gaza Strip, have been welcomed by the Envoys of the Middle East Quartet.

The quartet, which comprises Russia, the United States, the European Union and the UN, also thanked Egypt for its diplomatic efforts to reunite the Authority and Gaza, which has been run by the Hamas extremist group since they won elections in 2006.

The West Bank-based Fatah party split with Hamas in 2007.

In a statement, the quartet envoys urged the parties to take "concrete steps" to reunite, under the legitimate Palestinian Authority.

More details from Deputy UN Spokesperson, Farhan Haq.

"This will facilitate lifting the closures of the crossings, while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns, and unlock international support for Gaza’s growth, stability and prosperity, which is critical for efforts to reach lasting peace. The Quartet envoys stand ready to engage with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the region in support of this process."

Senior UN officials arrive in Dominica to assess hurricane damage

Senior UN officials arrived on the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean island of Dominica on Thursday to assess the damage first-hand.

Hurricane Maria pounded the island last week, when it landed as a Category 5 storm, collapsing buildings and leaving 27 dead, according to news reports.

Many other Caribbean countries have suffered heavy damage from a series of hurricanes that have swept across the region.

The UN Resident Coordinator and World Food Programme Regional Directorwere due to meet the Prime Minister of Dominica and UN staff already on the ground to discuss the government-led recovery effort.

More from Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq again.

"Humanitarian organizations are delivering aid and carrying out assessments. Although access to Dominica is gradually being restored, internal access along key roads is limited and hindering the delivery of crucial aid to cut-off communities. There are now 21 UN staff in the capital Roseau."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3’34″

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